Creative Collective caught up with British artist and crafter James Brunt, in order to learn some more about his renowned and unique patterned, structural and natural creations:
CC: Can you briefly describe your form of art, and what does it consist of?
JB: My work consists of temporary interventions to an outdoor location, using the resource within a given space to re-arrange. Mostly this takes place in natural / public locations and last for only a short time after I have left the location.
CC: How long have you been creating this beautiful art for?
JB: This current creative process has been developing over a seven year period.
CC: Was there a main source of inspiration that made you start this creative journey? How did the idea come about?
JB: There were a number of chance happenings that transpired to lead me down this path. Firstly, a friend introduced me to a stone balancer on the south coast, which for some reason the connection between art and physics just clicked with me. At the same time, myself and a photographer were beginning to explore some work together, so combining the two we made some very basic pictures. From there my creative journey quickly developed to be a more immersive connection to location, weather, seasons and natural resources…
CC: Before you started creating your art, did you spend much time outside amongst nature?
JB: Yes and no. Yes, I’ve always loved being outdoors and nature, but no, not like I do now. It’s like the development of my work has given me a renewed thirst for knowledge about the natural world around me. I don’t feel comfortable, for example, using materials that I can’t identify. The more time I spend outdoors, the more understanding I need of how the natural world interconnects with everything we do.
…the development of my work has given me a renewed thirst for knowledge about the natural world around me.
CC: Does your art encourage you to explore new places and natural settings?
JB: No, not really. I’m very aware of the impact the process of making work could have on the environment, so I generally work in public parks, on well-trodden paths and seaside resort beaches where families play every day. No bit of me wants to seek out areas of natural beauty and leave my mark.
CC: What would you say is the most challenging thing about your creative and artistic process?
JB: Firstly, the practical elements, such as the location, resources and weather (which changes all the time). These elements I see as partners in the work, and generally dictate what is and isn’t achievable on any given day. Secondly, it’s managing how my own creative thought processes develop. For example, I’m much more considered now in terms of deciding to either create or not create.
CC: Is there anything you look for in particular when exploring new places, in the sense of using the environment to create?
JB: I just try to look for opportunity. Whether the opportunity is happening across an interesting composition or landscape, or whether it’s a very specific natural resource that presents itself. Going back to the previous question, what I was trying to get across is that if these opportunities don’t present themselves, then I don’t force it and just enjoy the walk instead.
CC: How do you decide on the patterns and structures you create?
JB: I don’t very often plan, mainly because I can’t plan for the opportunity that I haven’t stumbled across yet. Obviously, I have a head full of ideas and memories of previous works that I guess appear when I find the location.
CC: Does it take long to plan the creation of your art, and gather materials etc?
JB: It’s a very organic process, so generally I don’t prepare or collect materials before starting work. Finding as I go along is also a way breaking up time into different tasks, which helps with focus.
CC: Your art is evidently one requiring much patience and dedication to an end result. How do you maintain a positive and patient mindset when creating your masterpieces?
JB: It’s a very immersive process, but also a quite simple one. Once the idea is formulated, I can allow my thoughts / awareness to both wander off or really enjoy what’s going on around me. Having this relationship with the plants, insects and birds around me is a really key part of why I do what I do.
It’s a very immersive process, but also a quite simple one.
CC: What keeps you motivated and wanting to keep on creating these distinct and eye-catching pieces?
JB: Being outside making work has become intrinsically linked to my wellbeing and wellness, so as long as this is the impact it has on me, I will continue.
CC: How does it feel when the elements stop you creating your work, for example, the rain or heavy winds? Is it frustrating?
JB: Surprisingly it doesn’t happen too often. Mainly because I’m mostly aware of the weather and will only make what it allows for. Much of my work is created in such a way that there isn’t a defined ending, spirals for instance can finished whenever so often the weather will have a say in when this is. That’s not to say there hasn’t been frustrating times when I get caught out.
CC: It’s fantastic and commendable that you’ve involved many others with your art, and enlightened minds (especially children). Do you feel the subject of art is given enough attention or focus in the lives of young people?
JB: I think it’s shocking how the creative subjects are presented in secondary schools and how the arts are seen in general. As people grow and get older, the confidence to create, or play in general, seems to be sucked out of people. If I can pass on one thing to both adults and children, it would be to never stop playing.
I think it’s shocking how the creative subjects are presented in secondary schools and how the arts are seen in general.
CC: How does it make you feel when you see others engage and get physical in the creation of art, as demonstrated in your workshops?
JB: I’m very grateful to have those experiences and connections with people. I also learn a lot, children are full of both confidence and ideas and often, how that comes out, feeds me and gives me ideas for the future.
CC: You run an arts organisation called ‘Responsible Fishing UK‘ alongside Timm Cleasby. Can you share with us a little more about the organisation to those who’ve not heard of it before?
JB: RF builds on what I’ve just been talking about, its simple beginnings was to come up with ideas to get people, adults and children, to play. Play on a big scale like we used to when we were kids. For example, Camp Cardboard, which is a huge cardboard box den building project, was developed after talking about how we use to build huge dens with hay bales in the fields.
CC: You’ve recently been involved with the project of ‘ITV Creates‘ and produced art to be shown to millions of viewers on ITV. How did this come about? How was the experience?
JB: Simply, the curator of the ITV Creates project follows me on twitter and so when they put together a list of possible artists, I was on it. For me, it came completely out the blue. It presented me with a challenge of how to recreate not only the work in an indoor space, but having the canvas of a woodland floor in an indoor space, to transform over a period of time.
It had quite a profound effect on me to be honest, once I’d adjusted to the space and all the cameras etc., it opened my eyes to the potential of indoor based work; something that I have continued to explore since. People often asked me about more gallery-based work, to which I always replied that it wasn’t something that I was chasing, but if it did happen, it would be an organic process. I guess this is that organic process in action.
CC: What would you like people to take away from your art when discovering it? Are there any messages or meanings that you’d like to be expressed via your work?
JB: This sounds like I’m being a bit funny about it, but I don’t really think about it at all. The process of making is so important to me and my wellbeing that’s my main focus. The fact that many people seem to enjoy what I do is just a huge bonus and very humbling. People response to my work is equally a very personal reaction, I wouldn’t want to even begin to influence what that response was.
The fact that many people seem to enjoy what I do is just a huge bonus and very humbling.
CC: Given your experience, is there any advice you’d like to offer to budding and practising artists out there?
JB: My head says, have a clear idea of what you are wanting to achieve and put in place the steps to fulfilling those ambitions.
But really what I would advise more, is to be happy with what you’re doing and enjoy the journey. Know you’ve been true to yourself and don’t ever, EVER, stop playing…
James Brunt studied Fine Art at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London. After working for galleries and a long stint in Arts Development, he now lives and work with his family in Yorkshire. James also runs the arts organisation ‘Responsible Fishing UK’.